You Say Syrah, We Say Shiraz

Whether it’s silky and spicy or rich and round, the Rhône favourite has found many admirers throughout the winemaking world. Here are our favourite picks of this delicious red wine.

Eric Texier, Domaine de Pergaud, Brézème, Vielle Serine Rouge 2014

Brézème, Northern Rhône

Organic vintner Eric Texier, who was a nuclear engineer before his winemaking days, has a cult following, thanks to his knack for making terroir-driven wines from small parcels in Rhône. Domaine de Pergaud in Brézème, a clay-limestone earth in Northern Rhône, is his main playground for Syrah. Made with whole bunches and wild yeast, the Vielle Serine has an irresistible perfume of granite, pepper and cherries. Accents of dark chocolate, raspberries and dried leaves are tied together by a slightly racy acidity. The finish is long, drawing you back for more.
$63, from KOT Selections. Tel: 6635 4770  

Two Hands, Angel’s Share, Shiraz 2017

McLaren Vale, South Australia

Like the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale is Shiraz territory. The latter, being closer to the sea, has a milder, Mediterranean climate, which lends a slightly softer style to the Shiraz. Generally, this means wines that are a little more approachable in their youth. This Shiraz from Two Hands winery—which was established in 1999 to showcase the various styles of Aussie Shiraz—is delicious. Matured for 14 months in American and French oak, the wine offers a medium- to full-bodied texture and notes of raspberries, lavender and capsicum. Tannins are plush and soft like a fine cashmere. There is a scent of mint once the wine has been left to breathe.
$56, from 1855 The Bottle Shop. Tel: 6251 1855

E.Guigal, Saint-Joseph Red 2015

Saint-Joseph, Northern Rhône

Founded by the late Etienne Guigal in 1946 in Ampuis, the widely regarded E. Guigal is currently managed by Marcel and Philippe, the second and third generation of the Guigal family. While the estate is mostly known for its top wines from the Northern Rhône appellation of Côte-Rôtie, it also makes ambrosias from Southern Rhône areas like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Tavel.

The Saint-Joseph Red, a Syrah from Northern Rhône, is one of E. Guigal’s mid-tier wines that offer a wallet-friendly introduction to the estate’s quality and the style of the region’s Syrahs. Its nose offers a lovely aroma of cherries and twigs. On the palate, figs, blackberries, cedar, pepper and a hint of liquorice are wrapped up nicely by silky tannins. This Syrah still has ageing potential, but it certainly is no crime to enjoy it now.
$58, from Grand Vin. Tel: 6465 3081

Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Domaine de Thalabert 2012

Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhône

Paul Jaboulet Aîné is another top Northern Rhône producer making a wide range of Syrahs from appellations across the Rhône. The Domaine de Thalabert vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage is an intrinsic part of Paul Jaboulet Aîné’s history, having been under the estate’s ownership since its inception in 1834. The Thalabert site is characterised by pebbly terraces that are glacial in origin: the round stones retain heat during the day and release it at night, keeping the vines warm and helping them attain optimum maturity.

The 2012 vintage—generally considered a positive, warm year—flaunts a deep, ruby hue and a floral aroma. The flavours of raspberry, cherry, jasmine and wood are harmonious and well-integrated, offering a delicious, enjoyable sip, while the silky tannins emphasise the wine’s elegant character.
$79, from 1855 The Bottle Shop. Tel: 6251 1855

Alain Graillot, Syrocco Rouge Maroc 2015

Zenata, Morocco

People are surprised to hear of Moroccan wine. But the North African country is no stranger to viticulture: the ancient Phoenicians were believed to have introduced wine to the region 2,500 years ago. In the early 20th century, French colonists brought commercial viticulture. The area between the coastal region and the Atlas Mountains, with its cooling influence from the Atlantic, has become a preferred location for vintners.

In 2003, Rhône-based winemaker Alain Graillot was cycling in Morocco when he stopped at Domaine des Ouled Thaleb in Zenata, a hilly region sitting 40km inland from the Atlantic. The clay and limestone soils convinced him that he could make quality Syrah, and a partnership with Ouled Thaleb was formed. The Syrocco 2015 channels the spirit of a Rhône Syrah: the mid-palate is elegant and tender, with piquant notes of cherry, plum and pepper.
$50, from ewineasia.com

This article was first published in Wine & Dine May/June 2019: Game-Changing Innovations.

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